In a study funded by CCS and conducted by a fellow at the Center on Philanthropy, almost 20% of donors give in order to help others meet basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, clothing) and 17% give in order to make the world a better place. But, what about giving because it feels good or brings joy?
The saints in Macedonia gave out of their abundant joy. They begged Paul for the privilege of sharing their money with those in Jerusalem: “They begged (Paul) earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (v. 4). To the church in Corinth, Paul offered the generosity of the Macedonians as an example:
We want you to know brethren about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part … I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others and that your love also is genuine. 8:1,2,8.
The saints in Macedonia gave out of their poverty, not their wealth. In fact, since they were in “extreme poverty,” they likely denied themselves the food and clothing they would have otherwise bought for themselves. Yet, they took pleasure in sharing God’s grace to them with others.
Cheerful Motivations of Love
Genuine love is more than how you feel or act. Paul offered the Macedonians as examples of love because their giving was the outflow of their joy in God’s grace, not just because they gave generously.
Benevolent action is love that flows from our joy in God’s grace. As Paul continued, “Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9). He wants us to act gladly in benevolence. If we don’t care whether we do a good deed cheerfully, then we don’t care whether God is pleased in our giving. For He is pleased when we delight to give.